Woman left 3-year-old in car alone for 90 minutes, police say

Originally published in the Albany Times Union - By Dylan Rossiter  

NORTH GREENBUSH — A tearful 3-year-old girl left alone in her mother's car for 90 minutes Wednesday wandered around an apartment building looking for help before a neighbor called 911, police said.

The girl's mother, 20-year-old Krystyl A. Knockwood of Troy, was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor after allegedly leaving the child unattended, police said.

A neighbor came outside at 12:40 p.m. to find the 3-year-old girl crying on a porch, police said.

Officers determined Knockwood was visiting a friend inside the Williams Road apartment building and had not checked on her daughter, who'd been left in the car, police said.

Police called Rensselaer County Child Protective Services and handed the girl over to her grandmother.

Knockwood is charged with misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child. She was arraigned in North Greenbush Town Court and is due back June 2

Parking restrictions, road closures for Tulip Fest

Originally published in the Albany Times Union - By Dylan Rossiter and Emily Masters 

ALBANY — Police announced a slew of road closures and parking restrictions Thursday that will be enforced Friday through Sunday for the city's 69th annual Tulip Festival.

State Street will be closed from Eagle and Lodge streets between 8:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Friday for scrubbing. CDTA will re-route all affected business and parking will be prohibited.

Parking Restrictions

From 6 a.m. Friday, May 12 until 8 p.m. Sunday, May 14, the following parking restrictions will be in effect in and around Washington Park.

  • Washington Park Road, east side from Hudson Avenue north 6 spaces
  • Washington Park Road, both sides from New Scotland Avenue to Lake Avenue
  • Road Closure, Friday May 12, 2017 at 6AM through Sunday May 14, 2017
  • Washington Park Road, from New Scotland Avenue to Lake Avenue

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 13 to 8 p.m. Sunday, May 14, there will be no parking on any Washington Park roadways, including Henry Johnson Boulevard.

From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14 the following parking restrictions will be in place:

  • Englewood Place, both sides from Western Avenue to the south dead end
  • Thurlow Terrace, both sides form Western Avenue to the south dead end

From 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on both Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14 the following parking restrictions will be in place:

  • Madison Avenue, north side from the bus stop east of New Scotland Avenue east 12 spaces
  • State Street, south side 4 spaces west of Henry Johnson Boulevard
  • S. Pearl Street, west side 2 spaces south of State Street
  • Madison Avenue, north side 2 spaces west of Grand Street
  • Elk Street, both sides 3 spaces west of Eagle Street
  • Elk Street, north side 3 spaces west Hawk Street

Parking in the vicinity of Washington Park is limited. Please consider using alternate parking facilities that have been set up for this event. A CDTA shuttle bus will be running from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on both Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14. The bus will make a loop to the following stops where parking is available:

  • State Street at Henry Johnson Boulevard. The bus will stop on the southwest corner on State St.
  • S. Pearl Street at State Street. The bus will stop on the southwest corner on S. Pearl Street.
  • Madison Avenue & Eagle Street. The bus will stop on the northeast corner on Madison Avenue.
  • Elk Street at Eagle Street. The bus will stop on Elk Street.
  • Elk Street at N. Hawk Street. The bus will stop on Elk Street.

Parking is available for residents where parking is affected by the event. The following parking areas are available on the above mentioned shuttle stop locations:

  • East Parking Garage located at the corner of Madison Avenue and Eagle Street. Parking is available starting after 4 p.m. Friday, May 12 until 6 a.m. Monday, May 15.
  • Cathedral & Museum Visitor Lot, located in the rear of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception on Madison Avenue, west of Eagle Street. Parking is available on from 2 p.m. to 6 a.m. on both May 13 and 14.
  • Elk Street State parking areas. There are several surface parking areas operated by the state Office of General Services that are available in this area starting after 4 p.m. Friday, May 12 until 6 a.m. Monday, May 15.

All vehicles parked in these areas must be removed by 6 a.m. Monday, May 15.

Road Closures

 From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 13 to 8 p.m. Sunday, May 14, all roads in Washington Park will be closed to all traffic.

The following roads will be closed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14 to all but local (residents and emergency vehicles) traffic:

  • Lancaster Street between Lark Street and Willett Street
  • Hudson Avenue between Lark Street and Willett Street
  • Willett Street between Madison Avenue and State Street
  • Henry Johnson between Western and State Street
  • State Street between Robin and Lark Street

The following road will be closed to all traffic from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14:

  • Englewood Place between Western Avenue and the south dead end.

Albany County Land Bank makes largest buy in 3 years

Originally published in the Albany Times Union - By Dylan Rossiter

Albany

The Albany County Land Bank acquired 265 tax-foreclosed properties in the capital city this month, the largest addition in the not-for-profit's three year history.

The organization improves and resells vacant and abandoned property in an effort to reverse the effects of blighted property on communities.

Land bank officials will inspect the buildings and decide what work needs to be done before they're put up for sale. The organization often cleans out properties, stabilizes structures and even demolishes buildings all together.

About 50 percent of the recently acquired properties have some form of a structure on them, while the remaining 135 are vacant lots, land bank Director Adam Zaranko said.

The land bank closed on 313 properties this year, amounting to about half of the total acquisitions made since its 2014 founding.

Properties are sold only to buyers with a plan to put buildings to productive uses that support community goals.

In February, the land bank's board of directors authorized the sale of 15 vacant properties to qualified buyers, the most approvals the organization has ever made in one month.

The 15 properties were located in Albany, Cohoes, Watervliet, Berne and Colonie, and ranged from small side lots to a mixed-use commercial building.

First-time home buyers, adjacent property owners and local investors were approved for new construction, building rehabilitation and open space preservation.

To view properties for sale, go to the land bank's website, http://albanycountylandbank.org.

Special Olympics NY Summer Games headed to Siena

Originally published in the Albany Times Union - By Dylan Rossiter 

COLONIE — Next summer, Capital Region residents will have the chance to see Special Olympics athletes in action during the Special Olympics New York State Summer Games at Siena College and other Capital Region venues.

Neal Johnson, CEO of Special Olympics New York, announced during a press conference Thursday at the Loudonville campus that Siena will host the Summer Games in 2017 and 2018.

It will be the first time in a decade the games have been played in the Capital Region, but Siena has maintained a strong relationship with Special Olympics New York.

The women's basketball team helped a local group of Special Olympic athletes prepare for their trip to the 2007 World Games in Shanghai, where they earned a silver medal, Johnson said.

One year later, the women's volleyball team shared their senior night spotlight with the Special Olympic athletes to honor them for winning the silver medal.

"That's the type of relationship Siena has long had with the athletes and the mission of the Special Olympics," Johnson said. "So we're especially delighted and appreciative that they have reached out and asked us to bring the games here for the next two years."

Tom Mooney, 31, a Special Olympics New York athlete who began participating in the games at age 9, described the impact Special Olympics has had on his life.

"At first, I had a hard time making a shot and the basketball was so hot, but now I bang out three-pointers," he said. "Special Olympics has given me a sense of belonging. I have made many friends with other athletes and coaches as well.

"It's taught me to use courage to do what I thought I could not do."

Mooney is one of 67,162 Special Olympic athletes from across New York and 727,787 in the Northeast. Come June, up to 2,000 athletes are expected to travel to the region along with spectators, family members and volunteers.

"If you're a fan of sportsmanship, if you're a fan of dedication and hard work, you're already a fan of the Special Olympics because that's what our athletes represent each and every day," Johnson said.

Volunteers interested in helping out at the Summer Games can find more information at http://specialolympics-ny.org/

 

Dylan Rossiter is a Maple Hill High School student who participates in the New Visions program at the Times Union.

Maple Hill boys' soccer season ends with 2-1 loss

Colonie

"Overtime is a great way to win, but it's a terrible way to lose," Maple Hill boys' soccer coach Dan Gillespie told a handful of parents after the Wildcats' 2-1 loss to Potsdam in the Class C regional final on Saturday at Colonie High School.

The Wildcats (20-1) were widely expected to win, given Potsdam's modest 9-6 record.

"All the pressure was on them in this game. They were expected to win," Potsdam forward Daniel Caamano said. "We told the boys if they work hard and put in 100 percent, anything can happen. It's soccer."

Caamano, a senior, delivered the game winner just seconds into overtime.

After a scoreless first half, it wasn't until 23 minutes into the second that either team got on the board. Maple Hill junior Nick Butler put the Wildcats on top 1-0.

"I was in disbelief when I made it. I guaranteed we were going to win after that," said Butler, whose goal was the first of his varsity career.

Just like in the Section II championship game, the Wildcats' opponents tied the score just minutes later.

With seven minutes remaining, Potsdam's Jacob Keleher scored, forcing overtime.

"We won our sectional in OT and had just scored, so the pressure was again all on them," Keleher said. "The playoffs are an entirely new season, and we just jumped on that."

For Maple Hill, the loss is its only setback in an otherwise decorated season, especially considering the team had lost five dominant seniors.

"We made two defensive mistakes today that just hurt us," Gillespie said. "Not many teams can win 20 games in a year. To get to this point, it's a painful day, but a memorable one."

With the win, Potsdam advances to the state tournament next weekend in Middletown. Potsdam will play the winner of North Salem and Seward at 9:15 Saturday morning.

Axtmann lifts Wildcats to regional final

Originally published in the Albany Times Union - By Dylan Rossiter

Plattsburgh

The Maple Hill boys' varsity soccer team advanced to the regional finals Tuesday in a 1-0 victory over Lake Placid.

The Wildcats (20-0-1) came out on top off the hot feet of senior Garrett Axtmann.

Nicknamed the "red tornado" by his third-grade bus driver for the mischief he caused, he was able to wreak some havoc at the net, putting the winning goal in with 14 minutes remaining in the first half.

"It came off the keeper, (Alec) Yager set him up and he [Axtmann] just nailed that sucker," said Maple Hill head coach Dan Gillespie.

For Axtmann, the goal was more than just another goal. It was his 39th of the season, and even more auspiciously, the 100th of his career.

"It felt good. I've been working for four years. This is the team I want to go all the way with. I'm with my best friends and I think we're playing some of the best soccer Maple Hill has seen in a while," said Axtmann. "We haven't won a sectional title in five years, we knocked that off the list. We haven't won regionals in five years and that's next on the list. We want to keep going with this."

Through thick and thin, the Blue Bombers continued to challenge the Wildcats but they were no match for Maple Hill keeper Lucas Bordeau.

"Most of the season he didn't get a lot of tough shots, other than some set plays and things like that," Gillespie said. "He's been showing his quickness, maturity level and how much he's improved since his sophomore year. It's unbelievable."

The junior finished the game with 11 saves. "I just used my fundamentals and my defense helped me out a lot too," Bordeau said. "They were a really good team. When they started to outplay us it was tough for us, but we pulled through."

For Gillespie, the win is yet another in a laundry list of postseason victories. "We got that one busted through, Garrett made a nice hard shot," Gillespie went on to say. "In the beginning, they had the momentum a lot with their passing game. Then it went back and forth, but we held on."

Maple Hill will now take on Potsdam, the Section X champion, at Colonie High Schoolon Saturday. The game's start time will be released in the coming days, but for now is undetermined.

No matter when the Wildcats play on Saturday, their driving force will remain the same: "Playing for Robert Horan." The widely known and well respected Superintendent of Schodack Schools, Horan passed away unexpectedly this summer, the result of a sudden fatal heart attack.

"He's with us. I can feel it and I think everyone else can," added Axtmann. "He's been on our shoulder the whole way. Sometimes I don't know how we came out with these wins. I really think he's pushing us through these wins."

Expect Horan's presence to continue to shine on Saturday.

 

Maple Hill students take on presidential debates

Originally published in the Albany Times Union - By Dylan Rossiter 

Castleton-on-Hudson

The cut-throat 2016 presidential election came to Maple Hill High School on Thursday in a debate.

While snow came down outside, flames flew inside the school auditorium. The three candidates, portrayed by students in the school's Election 2016 class, battled on everything from immigration to the economy and the death penalty.

Teachers Pat Austin and Lucas Ashby created the course.

"When we came up with the idea for the class we both knew this was something we wanted to do," Austin said. "I couldn't be happier with the way it went. With everything we asked the kids to do, they killed it up there."

The event included fact checkers, moderators, the media, boos and cheers, and the official presidential debate theme song.

"We wanted to make this as real of a presidential debate as possible," Austin said.

In line with the three actual debates, Donald Trump, portrayed by junior Connor Hallof 518 Sports, often interjected phrases like "wrong" and "she's crooked," aimed at Hillary Clinton, portrayed by freshman Julia Pugliese.

"A lot went into it, and I had to say a lot of controversial things today that I don't nearly agree with, but it was fun dressing up and playing the bully in Mr. Trump," Hall said.

To make the event informative and accurate, Austin and Ashby had the actors watch interviews and study their mannerisms.

"We weren't asking them for their opinions, we were asking them to represent the candidates," Austin said.

"Between class and our own time, we probably put at least 15 hours of work in," said Andrew Fleck, who portrayed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

Unlike the actual debates, the third-party candidate had a place on stage.

"Andrew's a big Johnson fan and he kinda came forward and said maybe we should have him up there," Austin said. "We've gone over the last three debates on TV and no one has heard of him because he hasn't had the stats/numbers to be up there.

"It's a crazy election and I think more so than ever people are looking at possibly going with a third party candidate because of their displeasure, dislike, distrust of the other two candidates."

Green Party candidate Jill Stein, portrayed by senior Dylan Fletcher, was given three minutes at the start of the debate to explain why she was running for president and what she hoped to accomplish.

"We wish we could have accommodated her in a larger capacity, but it would take time away from the other three candidates, which we were already pressed for," Ashby said.

The debate included candidates polling more than 3 percent.

Even though the students played the role of candidates they politically identified with, not all said they would vote for the candidate they portrayed.

"I agree with Hillary's ideas, but I wouldn't necessarily vote for her," Pugliese said.

The debate was broadcast on HS Cube Network and generated 307 views.

Dylan Rossiter is a Maple Hill High School student who participates in the New Visions program at the Times Union.